Each yoga practice is different and unique, but both child’s pose and puppy pose are a staple for every yogi. These asanas can bring fantastic benefits, while they can be accessible for all yogis, even beginners. When using them in your daily practice, it is crucial to understand the differences between them.
Both child’s pose and puppy pose are restful poses that can relax the mind, stretch the arms, and elongate the spine. A child’s pose can be a resting moment in demanding vinyasa sequences and can help you refocus the breath and the mind. Puppy pose is a gentle backbend and heart opener.
Whether you have been practicing for just a few days or years, you would have encountered these poses in your practice. Below, you can finally find out what differentiates them and which one is right for your flow.
Child’s Pose vs Puppy Pose: An Overview
Fast-paced, demanding asanas can be an excellent way to invigorate the body, motivate the mind, tune in with your breath, and explore some asanas more profoundly. However, each yogi has the responsibility to find what feels good during their practice, and relaxing moments should undoubtedly be part of it.
Both child’s pose and puppy pose are excellent breaks you could take during your flow. They allow you to renew the focus on your breathing – which you might have lost during the practice – and calm the mind.
While different in many aspects, the two postures are also similar because they are accessible by beginner yogis and kids. Preparatory poses exist, but often the transition from these to the full version of puppy pose or child’s pose is fast and suitable for all practitioners.
While both useful and beneficial in these ways, the poses are incredibly different. Below, we will see the benefits and characteristics of each of these poses. However, if you are in a rush, you can use this overview:
- Child pose – relaxes the mind, stretches the spine and hips, and relieves back pain. It is a great resting pose and can be used as a counter asana for backbends and inversions.
- Puppy pose – this yoga pose includes a gentle backbend you can use to start working towards more demanding ones. It allows you to relax, open your heart, and start fighting chronic pain.
Find out how to incorporate these poses and the benefits you can get from them below.
Child’s Pose: The Restful Asana You Need in Your Practice
Child’s pose, also known as Child’s Resting Pose or with its Sanskrit name Balasana, is a great resting pose that you can use at any time during your daily practice. This posture is undoubtedly accessible by most yogis and, with the appropriate variations, it can also be suitable for those yogis who suffer from knee pain.
While it is an accessible pose and can seem simple at first, yogis should not overlook the advantages that it can bring. Because of the ones we are about to see, Child’s pose is an ideal addition to your morning yoga or unwinding evening practice.
Aside from the fact that Child’s pose won’t require you to remain in a balancing, strengthening, or invented posture, this asana is also restful because of other reasons.
When you are in a child’s pose, you can focus on breathing consciously into the back of your torso – which is something we don’t normally do. Through this full and regenerating breathing, you can fill the back of your torso with air – which will lengthen and widen the spine.
In this position, you will have the chance to refocus on your Ujjayi breath – or victorious breath, which is at the core of any Vinyasa flow.
How to Approach Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a common asana that you would have encountered whether you have practiced for just a week or longer. Indeed, it is a staple in most flows and often present in all classes – from beginner to expert ones.
However, if you wish to check that you are practicing it correctly, check out the steps below:
- Start by kneeling on the floor or from all fours. Starting from all fours might be more achievable during your vinyasa flow.
- Bring your big toes to touch and separate your knees, so they are as wide as your hips.
- Sit back onto your heels if you are not already there.
- As you exhale, allow your torso and upper body to drop between your thighs.
- Once in the pose, adjust your posture. Do so by allowing your sacrum to broaden and bringing your hip points toward the navel. Then, lengthen the tailbone down and away from the pelvis.
- Once your body is in the pose, bring awareness to your head. Lift the back of your skull slightly, so your gaze would be directed towards the mat. You can keep your eyes closed for increased comfort or focus.
- Bring your arms alongside your torso, allowing them to rest on the mat. Turn the palms upward and allow the shoulders to drop towards the mat.
- Remain in the position for as long as it feels comfortable (anything between 3 seconds and a few minutes).
- To exit this asana, start with a deep inhalation. As your lungs expand, you can lengthen the torso, which will lift your head slightly and lift from the tailbone.
As we have seen, a child’s pose might seem easy at first, but it requires you to focus on several aspects that can make it quite intense.
Child’s Pose Variations
Child’s pose is reasonably accessible as it is and, if you have just started your yoga journey, it can even give you the feeling of a deep forward fold when working towards Uttanasana. Nonetheless, some variations are still available and worth considering in some cases.
Firstly, you might consider a variation if you struggle to sit on your heels or kneel. For this, you should fold a thick blanket and place it between the back of your things and calves. You can add another layer of soft material between the knees and the floor for extra comfort. After all, this is a resting pose – so, make sure you are comfortable.
You might also consider a variation if you look for a deeper lengthening and stretch in the torso. For this variation, follow all the steps we have seen above, but extend the arms in front of you.
This movement will cause your buttocks to come off your heels slights and your back to stretch. As you reach the arms forward, the shoulder blades will draw down towards your back. Lastly, let the buttocks drop back towards the heels.
Benefits of Child’s Pose
One of the mistakes that expert yogis might run into is that they forget about the benefits that a simple pose such as Child’s pose might bring. Please find an overview below and re-introduce it in your practice today.
It’s a Great Heart Opener
When performing a Child’s pose with your arms extended in front of you, this can be a gentle heart opener that you might use to counteract the pressure that inversions and backbends might apply.
In a yoga flow, you might decide to rest in a child’s pose after taking your vinyasa or exiting an incredibly demanding inversion. This pose allows you to take tension off your wrists, neck, and shoulders while opening the heart.
Helps You Relax
A child’s pose represents a precious occasion to focus on your breathing and calm your mind. If you have been flowing for some time, resting in a child’s pose allows you to regain control over your Unajjyi breath and reduce tension in your arms and legs.
You might also decide to stay in this asana for a few cycles of breath before a mellow evening flow or refreshing morning practice. It can help you establish your breathing before flowing.
If you are at a point in your yoga journey where you experiment with inversions or backbends, it is crucial to understand how to counter these poses. Indeed, creating balance is vital, and if you are just strengthening your back muscles, child pose can help you maintain them flexible and mobile.
Using a child’s pose every time you come off an inversion can help you take the pressure off your hands, wrists, or head and relax the spine.
It Can Stretch the Hips, Ankles, and Thighs
Because of the legs’ position when in Child’s pose, this posture can offer you a mild stretch across your thighs, hips, and ankles. If you are looking for a gentle hip opener that is easily accessible, Child’s pose can help you start working on your flexibility.
If you are also working towards Frog pose or splits, Child’s pose represents the first step to building awareness of your hips and thighs’ mobility. Simultaneously, strengthening and stretching your ankles is essential to then progress into balancing poses or inversions. It all starts with Child’s pose!
It Can Relieve Back Pain
Back pain is a condition bound to afflict over 80% of the population at least once or for some time. While it can range from mild to severe, back pain can be a persistent condition to deal with. Yoga practice is notoriously beneficial to fight this type of pain.
However, postures like a child’s pose are particularly suitable to release the tension that accumulates in the lower back. Alongside Low Cobra Pose and Standing Forward Fold, Child’s Pose can help you fight back pain.
Puppy Pose: The Gentle Backbend That Calms the Mind
Puppy pose, also known as Uttana Shishosana in Sanskrit or Extended puppy pose, is another resting pose that you might consider introducing in your practice. The puppy pose is considered to be a cross between a downward-facing dog and a puppy pose.
The main difference between puppy pose and child’s pose is the curvature of the spine. While in Child’s pose, you will be lengthening the tailbone towards your heels. In puppy pose, you are looking at extending your hips towards the ceiling. This motion will produce a slight backbend.
If you have been practicing yoga for longer and experimenting with backbends and more complicated asanas, the puppy pose is a starting pose you should consider. Indeed, it allows you to start stretching your back, opening your heart, and lengthening your arms with minimal risk of injury.
Whether you wish to keep the original pose or try some variations, it is crucial to find proper alignment to avoid injuries and pain. If you want to keep this pose for longer but struggle to stay on your knees, then you might consider adding a folded blanket between the back of your thighs and the calves.
Below you can find out how to perform this asana and make the most out of it.
How to Approach Puppy Pose
Puppy pose is relatively accessible by any yogi – but those who have experienced knee injury should be careful while practicing it. This asana can be an excellent resting asana you might want to include in your daily practice to stimulate both your heart and sacral chakra.
Start introducing it in your practice with the steps and tips below.
- Start from all fours or tabletop. Ensure that your knees are below your hips and your wrists are stacked below your shoulders. Keep your feet hip-distance apart and parallel.
- As you exhale, start moving your hands out in front of your body.
- Your chest melts toward the floor, and you can release your head onto the mat.
- Bring awareness to the hands in front of you. They should be pressing firmly onto the mat and locked in Hasta Bandha. Thanks to this Hand Lock, you will then create a lifting action that will keep the whole of your arms engaged.
- Internally rotate the bones in your upper arm to create an outward movement in the shoulder blades. Remember to keep your arms active throughout the pose, and the elbows lifted off the floor.
- When inhaling, reach your hips even further upwards and melt your chest toward the mat.
- Hug your ribs in towards your spine to prevent your back from collapsing.
- Hold the position for 5 to ten breath cycles.
- Exit this pose by slowly walking the hands back underneath your shoulders, returning into all fours.
Puppy Pose Variations
There are several variations and modifications that you might consider if you wish to explore extended puppy pose in different ways. However, not all these variations might be as suitable for your needs. Check out the following options:
- Extended puppy poses for sensitive knees – place a folded blanket under the knees.
- Extended puppy pose for lower back pain – place a yoga block between your inner thighs and between your feet. Ensure you are firming your toes and thighs against it. This strategy can help you maintain proper alignment and keep your legs and feet engaged throughout the pose.
- Extended puppy poses for a deeper stretch – Use your yoga blocks to assist you and deepen the time. You can do so by placing them under your elbows, bringing the palms together, and bending your arms at the elbow, drawing them behind your head.
Benefits of Puppy Pose
Puppy pose is an asana virtually accessible by every yogi, thanks to the many available variations today. While it might seem easy at first, its benefits are many.
It Stretches the Shoulders and Spine
Puppy pose offers you a mild backbend that is perfect if you work towards more demanding poses such as wheel pose or camel pose. While this backbend is accessible by most, it also provides you with a stretch that can help you keep your back mobile and flexible in preparation for more demanding poses.
Improves Spine Flexibility
A puppy pose is an ideal pose to prepare yourself for more complicated backbends and arm balances. In particular, an extended puppy pose might help you get ready for chin balancing poses, such as Ganda Bherundasana or Chin stand.
If you wish to use an extended puppy pose with this goal in mind, ensure you are placing your chin on the floor to open the front of your throat and strengthen the neck muscles.
It Can Relieve Chronic Pain
Extended Puppy Pose is a restful pose you can introduce in your practice, often instead of a child’s pose or downward-facing dog. It allows you to relax and open your shoulders and reduce the tension in the lower back. Because of it, it can relieve chronic pain.
It Can Be an Invigorating Heart Opener
Both the heart and sacral chakras are critical components that we often tend to forget about. The heart chakra or Anahata allows us to live in harmony with others and with love and compassion. This posture, because of the position of your chest and torso, can significantly stimulate it.
Both child’s pose and puppy pose are fundamental asanas that will be incorporated in every yogi’s practice – in a way or another. While they can both represent a moment of rest during demanding vinyasa flows, they are very different.
Child’s pose is a restful asana that allows you to refocus your mind, calm the breath, and stretch your spine when you need it. It can be used as a counter asana for backbends or inversions. Instead, the Puppy pose involves a mild backbend and can be a great heart opener accessible by most yogis.